“TANG TANG GANG! WOOOOOOO!”
“Didn’t I tell you guys? Didn’t I? Didn’t I? Tang Tang is the best!”
“AWESOMESAUCE! EASY WIN!”
“AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! WIN! WIN! WIN!”
“TANG TANG IS THE BEST! GOOOOOOO TANG TANG!”
The audience couldn’t get enough of Tang Bingyao after her quadra kill! They screamed her name at the top of their lungs! They begged and vowed to name their first born after her! And they pleaded for her to host a League seminar! Even some of the Shanghai High School students in the audience stood up and clapped for her. Tang Bingyao had won their respect by persevering and coming through for her team despite how badly the other games in the Finals went for her. They quietly complimented her for being tilt-proof.
Tang Bingyao’s teammates were just as hyped. Liu Yue unleashed a stream of verbal diarrhea complimenting and congratulating here. Chen Ze gushed about how awesome she was for getting a quadra kill in a major tournament. And as Tang Bingyao looked over at Lin Feng, she noticed that his serious expression had evaporated. He was grinning again and gave her a double thumbs up! She started beaming. W-we won the teamfight… I didn’t let them down. I got a Quadra! She nodded at Lin Feng and said, “Mhm!” Then she pumped her fist up in the air and screamed, “I’m a really good ad-carry!”
An Xin looked at Tang Bingyao and smiled. Then she winked and said, “You are! That was so good!” I knew you had it in you! You’re so talented at this game! You just needed a little confidence booster! I’m so happy that you got this quadra kill! Now we can focus on ending this game.
The happiness on High School 13’s side of the stage was completely different from the heavy silence shrouding Shanghai High School’s team. After Zeng Rui’s Leona died, all five team members had slumped back into their seats and were now just staring at their grey screens. The Jungler was the first to open his mouth. He said, almost in disbelief, “We lost… to them.”
Zeng Rui closed his eyes and took a deep, long breath. We’ve lost. They had an answer for every strategy I came up with. Almost as if they knew what I was going to do before even I knew… They outplayed me, and now they just have to finish it. There’s no way they’re going to give this away. We lost… I lost. But— He opened his eyes and sat up straight in his gaming chair. We’re not going to give up. We’re never going to give up! He took another deep, long breath and then said over the team’s voice chat, “That was it, guys. We lost. They’d have to make a bunch of poor plays and mistakes in a row for us to have any chance of turning this around. And I highly doubt that’ll happen. We’ve played three games against them, I know you’ve got their measure now too. They’re going to win. But! Let me be very clear here! That doesn’t mean that we’re going to give up. I don’t care how you feel right now. We came here to fight and that’s exactly what we’re going to do! If they want to win, they’re going to have to earn it! We’re going to make it as hard as we possibly can for them! And even if we lose, we’ll lose with our heads held high! We’ll take pride in knowing that we played our hardest out there and kept fighting until the absolute end!”
High School 13’s esports club members didn’t stop screaming and cheering after Tang Bingyao’s quadra kill, even when everyone else did. Their fellow students gave them odd looks and a few tried to shush them. But the club members had no intention of sitting around quietly, not when their school and their club was about to win its first real trophy! They tried to explain that the game had already ended. That High School 13 had won! They tried telling the other students that the Esports Team just had to play the game out for the official victory. But no one was listening. So they started shouting again, their voices so full of confidence that the other students started believing them.
“CHAMPIONS! WE’VE WON! WOOOOOO!”
“HIGH SCHOOL 13, CHAMPIONS! HAHAHA!”
“THEY DID IT! THEY DID IT! OH MY GOD, THEY DID IT!”
“ARE WE REALLY DOING IT? YES WE ARE! YES WE ARE!”
“AHHHHHHH I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS! WE’RE GETTING OUR FIRST EVER TROPHY!”
“BRING THAT TROPHY HOME, TANG TANG!”
Mr. Zhou, the club director at High School 13, sat at the front of the venue next to Ren Rou. He looked over his shoulder at the students screaming that they’d won the Finals already. Then he turned back and looked at the large screen above the stage. We won? Why are they still playing then? I should’ve really looked into what this game is… He looked over at Ren Rou. She’s going to fall off her seat if she leans any further forward. And… is she crying? “Uhh, Miss Ren Rou, excuse me? Can you tell me what’s going on? Did we win already? Why are they still playing then?”
“HELL YEAH WE’RE WINNING!” Ouyang shouted out before Ren Rou could say anything. He was lost in euphoria and had completely forgotten that he was talking to a teacher. “Bro, bro, don’t you see? Tang Tang has 10 kills! 10! And they also got the third Dragon! Shanghai High School has lost! Hahaha! They lost! We really won! We’re getting the trophy!”
Mr. Zhou’s eyes went wide in surprise. Then he smiled and asked, “So they’ve won? But they still have to play? How does that work?”
Yang Fan threw one arm around Ouyang and pushed his glasses back with the other. “Basically. Yes, sir. In short, Tang Bingyao’s Vayne deals an intensely large amount of damage. Then you got Chen Ze, Liu Yue, and Lin Feng. They’ve gotten enough gold to buy all the defensive items they need for their champions. They’re unkillable. So all they have to do now is stand in front of Tang Bingyao’s Vayne to protect her while she quickly kills every enemy champion. There’s nothing Shanghai High School can do to stop them. We just have to push forward as a team and destroy the Nexus. Then the game will be officially over and we’ll have won! Officially!”
“AND THE FINALS! WE ALSO WIN THE FINALS!” Ouyang shouted, mad with joy.
“That’s great!” Mr. Zhou exclaimed. Then he started grinning uncontrollably and said, “I can’t believe this. We’re actually going to win something! I knew our school had to have some talented students! Ha! Maybe you guys can teach me how to play this game one of these days. I’d like to learn it.”
Ouyang laughed and shouted, “OF COURSE! US BROS WILL GET YOU TO DIAMOND! NO PROBLEM!”
Mr. Zhou shook his head, smiling. This is what we’ve been missing. A big win. Just look at these students. They’re so happy! I didn’t realize how much they needed this until now. I can’t even be mad at him for not calling me sir. He nodded at Ouyang and said, “That sounds good. Thank you, Ouyang. Let’s watch them win first.” Then he looked back up at the screen, where High School 13 was pushing down the mid lane.
An Xin knew exactly what the team needed to do to bring this game home. I just have to make sure we don’t put ourselves in positions where we can blunder. We have to group up and keep Tang Tang alive! She looked at her four teammates sitting next to her and said over the team’s voice chat, “Alright, guys. We haven’t won just yet. Our biggest mistake right now would be to lose focus.” She waited a minute to let that information settle in, then continued, “But we’re not going to make that mistake. I won’t let you! We’re going to team up and push down for objectives as a team. Protect Tang Tang and let her carry us!”
At 26 minutes: High School 13’s team composition became unstoppable. Shanghai High School tried to put up a defense, but was pushed back even when hiding beneath their own towers. High School 13 destroyed the outer and inner tower in the mid lane, the bot lane, and finally also in the top lane.
At 28 minutes: High School 13 escorted a large minion wave down each lane and unleashed them en masse on Shanghai High School’s base. This forced Shanghai High School to choose between defending their base by killing the minions or giving up the base to try and stop High School 13 from taking Baron Nashor. Neither option was desirable. Zeng Rui attempted to do both. He sent his Jungler to try and steal the Baron, since whoever dealt the killing blow got the buff. Then he had the rest of the team defend their base from the minion onslaught. It was a hail mary that failed. High School 13 secured Baron Nashor and then killed Lee Sin.
At 29 minutes: Shanghai High School had a difficult choice to make. Their Jungler was dead, High School 13 had the Baron Buff. Zeng Rui eventually decided that there was no scenario in which they could win a 4vs5 against High School 13 without Lee Sin. So he told his teammates to give up on defending the inhibitors. They were going to buy at the shop and prepare for a final stand at the Nexus.
High School 13 remained careful. They stuck together as a group and took down the inhibitor towers and then the inhibitors methodically. An Xin led them from the top lane to the mid lane and finally the bot lane. The towers fell and the inhibitors exploded, which allowed the Blue Base to start spawning Super minions.
At 30 minutes: Lee Sin respawned and Shanghai High School’s team was back to full strength. All five champions gathered around the two nexus towers and were busy killing the first Blue minion waves that had barreled into their base.
High School 13 stopped out of range from Shanghai High School’s Nexus towers. They were waiting for more minions to arrive. All five of them still had Baron Nashor’s Buff. This didn’t just grant stat bonuses to champions, but also to nearby minions. Melee minions, Caster minions, and Super minions all received a massive boost in strength as they arrived in Shanghai High School’s base.
Zeng Rui realized his team wasn’t strong enough to repel the minions while also defending against High School 13. So he made the final decision to force an engage. He knew that this was exactly what An Xin wanted him to do. But he had no other choice. Shanghai High School engaged High School 13. And was slaughtered.
High School 13 killed all five Champions from Shanghai High School, an Ace. Tang Bingyao added a triple kill to her already phenomenal performance this game. Then they destroyed the Nexus towers and finally the Nexus itself. The red energy contained within exploded outwards and morphed into the victory emblem.
“CHAMPIONS! YAAAAAAH YEAH AHHHHHHHHH!”
“WE’RE THE CHAMPIONS!”
“HAHAHA! FUCK YEAH! WE’RE THE BEST!”
“WE DID IT! WE DID IT! HOLY SHIT, WE DID IT!”
“OUR FIRST TROPHY EVER! WOOOOOOOOOOO!”
The host of the Shanghai 16 School Tournament stepped onto the stage. He looked out over the cheering crowd and shouted, “High School 13 are the Champions of the Shanghai 16 School Tournament! They have defeated Shanghai High School 3-1 in the Finals!” He paused as a new wave of cheers rocked the venue. Then he continued, “It’s been an incredible journey for High School 13! They started this tournament at the bottom, with last year’s disappointing performance weighing them down. We counted them out, but they came in looking for redemption! And THEY FOUND IT! They beat everyone in their path, all the big names along the way! They toppled Tonji Affiliated High in the qualifiers! They shredded Shanghai International in the seat-of-your-pants semifinals! But this underdog of a team wasn’t satisfied with that! Nope! They didn’t stop until they’d beaten Shanghai High School in what I can only describe as the highest quality Finals matchup we’ve ever seen here in the history of the tournament! Hate it or love it, the underdog’s on top! They’re going to shine until their hearts stop! Let’s hear it for them! TO THE CHAMPIONS OF THE SHANGHAI 16 SCHOOL TOURNAMENT—HIGH SCHOOL 13!”
Lin Feng shot up from his chair, threw his fist up in the air, and screamed, “WE’VE WON!”
Liu Yue followed Lin Feng’s example. He jumped to his feet and threw his hand in the air, shouting, “WOOT WOOT!” Then he tried to give Lin Feng a high five, which ended in an awkward fist bump that sent An Xin into a fit of giggling. He dropped his hand back down and mumbled, “Thanks for carrying me.”
An Xin walked up to him and raised her hand. “HIT ME, I want a high five too! Slap it as hard as you can!”
Liu Yue hesitated briefly, but then grinned again. He raised his hand and high-fived An Xin’s hand as hard as he could.
“We won. We actually won…” Chen Ze muttered, staring at the victory crest on his screen. He then looked over at Lin Feng, An Xin, and Liu Yue and repeated, “We actually won. It’s mad!” He got up, laughing incredulously, and gave Liu Yue a high five.
Lin Feng suddenly pointed at the stairs up the stage. Ouyang was running up, followed by Yang Fan, Ren Rou, and finally Wei Dong. “Hey! We won!” he shouted at them, throwing his balled fist up in the air again. Yang Fan jumped on Lin Feng and hugged him, a move he’d seen footballers do on television, while Ren Rou and Wei Dong ran straight past Lin Feng to congratulate Tang Bingyao.
Ouyang didn’t see his teammates anymore. Nor could he hear them. The moment that the victory emblem appeared on the large screen, all he could see was the trophy. WE’VE WON! THE TROPHY IS OURS! He stopped in front of the large cup and wrapped his hands around the base. He then looked out over the audience and raised it up over his head, screaming, “WE WOOOOOOOOOON!” He dropped to his knees, still holding the trophy above his head, and started weeping in joy.
The other eight team members chased after Ouyang. Ren Rou was the first to arrive. She flicked his forehead and took the trophy from him. She then clutched it in her embrace before handing it over to Tang Bingyao. “Here. You carried us. We got this trophy thanks to you!”
Tang Bingyao stared at the trophy that was pushed into her hands. How did I get here? I was just sitting behind the computer and playing… She saw her reflection in the large cup, and her friends celebrating around her. The game is over. We won. It was taking a while to process. She hadn’t really noticed anything that’d happened in the last few minutes. Ren Rou was suddenly hugging me. And then Wei Dong started saying all those things… She looked up from the trophy at the friends around her and the audience further away.
“TANG TANG! TANG TANG!”
“TANG TANG! TANG TANG!”
“TANG TANG! TANG TANG!”
“TANG TANG! TANG TANG!”
“TANG TANG! TANG TANG!”
“TANG TANG! TANG TANG!”
Tang Bingyao didn’t really know what to do. Then she heard Liu Yue and Lin Feng telling her to raise the trophy above her head. Above my head? She looked at the large cup in her hands. It’s so heavy. I didn’t think it would weigh this much… The chanting cheer of her name from the audience slammed into her, and snapped her out of her head. Mhm! We won! She smiled and lifted up the trophy as high as she could. We won!
Shanghai High School’s team watched everything happen in absolute silence. No one was in the mood to say anything. They’d lost the Finals and the last 10 minutes were excruciating because High School 13 hadn’t made a single mistake. They looked in the direction of the exit, but didn’t get up. They were waiting for Zeng Rui to tell them when they could leave.
Zeng Rui was staring at his screen. I should’ve done more. Maybe we could’ve won if I hadn’t underestimated them… Then he shook his head and turned to look at his teammates. “Sorry. I failed. Let’s go and congratulate the winners.” Then he stood up and walked to the center of the stage where High School 13 was celebrating their victory.
Zeng Rui stopped a few meters away from High School 13’s team and waited. I’d also want to celebrate. They won. I can’t be a good winner if I’m a sore loser. He took a couple of deep breaths and waited, until he caught Lin Feng’s attention. He nodded and Lin Feng walked over. He then extended his hand to Lin Feng and said, “Congratulations! You were the better team today.”
Lin Feng grinned and replied, “Thanks! Yeah, we were pretty good today! But you guys were great too!”
Zeng Rui nodded and said, “I didn’t expect this outcome. Fair win to you guys. But next time, I’ll be ready. And I won’t lose again!”
“Is that a challenge? Are you challenging us? I love challenges!” Lin Feng exclaimed happily. Then he added, “But you’re going to need to be ready, it won’t be easy to win against us! We’re going to keep getting better!”
Zeng Rui shook his head. Thundering dumbass. Then he looked over at An Xin who’d walked over with the rest of High School 13’s team. He nodded at her and said, “You have my respect.” This time, you really do. You’re so much better than I could’ve ever expected. If I knew that yesterday…
An Xin smiled and replied, “You flatter me. But I didn’t win this game. Our ad-carry here did. She carried us.”
Zeng Rui nodded and then turned to look at Tang Bingyao. I was even wrong about her. What happened last game? She was suddenly so much better. He finally said, “My apologies. I underestimated you. You played an amazing ad-carry that game.”
Tang Bingyao scratched her ear as her face turned red. She mumbled, “T-thank you.”
Lin Feng patted Tang Bingyao on the shoulder and grinned. “I know, right? My Tang Tang is the best ad-carry ever! I keep telling her!”
An Xin glared at Lin Feng and asked, “Your Tang Tang?”
Ouyang forgot about winning the trophy, Yang Fan discarded the idea of adjusting his glasses, Liu Yue held back a “Woot woot!”, and Chen Ze instinctively took several steps back. Even Shanghai High School’s players found themselves backing away from An Xin, Tang Bingyao, and Lin Feng. There was a shared trepidation. No one wanted to be in Lin Feng’s shoes right now. Or anywhere near him. So they slowly backed away.
Tang Bingyao shook Lin Feng’s hand off her shoulder, the tips of her ears turning red. Then she abruptly turned around and said to him, “I’m not yours!”
Lin Feng grinned and replied, “It’s fine, it’s fine! We’re master and disciple, remember?”
Shanghai High School’s players stared at Lin Feng with wide open eyes. Then they took another step back, one of them mumbling, “Is he crazy?”
Liu Yue heard the question and nodded, glancing over at An Xin to make sure she didn’t see him. Then he mouthed to the Shanghai High School players, “He is an idiot!”
A thundering dumbass. Zeng Rui shook his head. Crazy. And crazy good.
Chu Fang, vice president of the Shanghai Esports Association, had watched the Finals of the Shanghai 16 School Tournament backstage. And now he watched the two teams giving each other hands and talking with each other. He smiled. They’re getting along. This is what I love to see. They’re the ones who’re going to represent the LPL in the years to come. Let them get to know each other now. Become friends. And Lin Feng is with them. BunBun. Zeng Rui. Even Tang Bingyao looks like she might make it! Here I was, a few weeks ago, worried that we only had Zeng Rui and that arrogant kid from Shanghai Internation—
Chu Fang got spooked by the sudden ringing of his phone. He took it out from his pocket and looked at the caller ID: Fang Hao. The boss? I wonder why he’s calling? He accepted the call and placed the phone to his ear. “Hello, sir. I thought you were off on the weekend?”
“Evening, Chu Fang, Well, you know how it is. I always bring my work home with me!” Fang Hao chuckled. He was Chu Fang’s superior, the President of the Shanghai Esports Association. “I noticed that it was close to the end of the scheduled time for the tournament, thought I’d check in with you. How’s the tournament? Everything fine?”
“Yeah, we’re all good here. It just finished, actually,” Chu Fang replied. “High School 13 beat Shanghai High School 3-1. It was a good series. Strong performance by both teams.”
“Oh? That’s a surprise.” Fang Hao remarked. He was silent for a moment and then said, “I’d like to know a bit more about High School 13. Can you send me everything you have on them? And also add in what you have on Shanghai High School while you’re at it.”“Huh? Uh…” Chu Fang hesitated. Sending everything I have on High School 13 also means sending the information on Lin Feng. I made a promise to the kid… He smiled wryly. Can’t really go and hide this. “Alright, sir. I’ll send you an email first thing when I’m back at the office.”